Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Windows 8 Coming in October [REPORT]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Windows 8 Coming in October [REPORT]”

Windows 8 Coming in October [REPORT]

Posted: 20 Mar 2012 03:34 AM PDT


Microsoft could finish Windows 8 this summer, with a possible release date in October, Bloomberg reports citing sources familiar with the matter.

Furthermore, according to the same sources, Microsoft’s new OS will support both Intel and Arm processors from the get go. However, as much as 40 Intel devices will be supported in the initial rollout, compared to “fewer than five” ARM devices, Bloomberg reports.

The company will likely host an event in April, in which it will reveal the release date and marketing details for Windows 8.

The October time frame is pretty much the last possible date for Microsoft if it wants tablet manufacturers to ship devices sporting Windows 8 in 2012. A recent report claimed Lenovo plans to launch a Windows 8-based tablet device as early as October 2012.

From what we know, Windows 8 development is on schedule. In February, Microsoft released a Consumer Preview version of the OS; we had a chance to try it out, and it was quite polished — and Microsoft still has plenty of time in 2012 to work on the details.

More About: October, Windows 8

Forget Passwords, Program IDs Your Keystrokes Instead

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 08:52 PM PDT

Human’s aren’t meant to remember passwords with a bunch of pound signs or other nonsensical symbols. Although, cryptic passwords are great for security purposes, they’re not so great for the humans trying to remember them. And we have plenty to remember.

DARPA announced on Monday that it is looking into the feasibility of getting computers to recognize users by the way they type, rather then having to enter a password.

Richard Guidorizzi, DARPA program manager, gave a talk in 2010 called “Beyond Passwords.” He explained that creating passwords that are easy to remember is bad for personal security. He said keystroke identification would make computers adapt to humans, rather than the other way around.

“Active Authentication” as it’s being called, aims to make how you type your identifying feature. The authentication process, Guidorizzi says, would happen in the background while the computer user goes about their business.

Roy Maxion, a research professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, says such a program might recognize the length of time a user presses the keys. Since typing is a motor skills connected to our subconscious, it would be unlikely that someone could impersonate a particular person’s typing pattern.

A study at Pace University showed a similar program that identifies users by keystroke patterns was 99.5% accurate.

The downside of such a program is that it would require continuous monitoring to verify the same person was using the computer.

What do you think about active authentication? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, peepo

More About: DARPA, keyboard, passwords, secure passwords

Location-Based App Maps Nearby Bars, Food and Adventure

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 08:36 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Roamz

Quick Pitch: Roamz is a discovery mobile application that aims to help locals and travelers alike find a region’s hidden gems.

Genius Idea: Pulling real-time data and updates from Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and the application’s own data stream to show you what people are doing close by.

Imagine traveling to a foreign place for the first time and knowing your way around. Or living somewhere for years and discovering a new place that becomes a favorite haunt. Roamz is a global mobile application that aims to point you toward these experiences.

The location-based app aggregates data from social networks into its “Nearby” feed. Statuses, tips and photos are collected from people near you — not solely from who you know. This ensures there’s access to data you wouldn’t normally see.

Roamz curates info about hole-in-the-wall restaurants, little-known theaters, galleries and sights off the beaten path and puts them on an easy-to-read display. Large image thumbnails quickly show what’s going on.

The startup’s users in NYC may stumble across places such as low-profile cafes on a residential block or a secret burger joint hidden behind a curtain at the Le Parker Meridien.

Even with all the tools we have, it can be difficult to really know what’s going on around you, Roamz CEO Jonathan Barouch tells Mashable. “You might come across something from Twitter, but often you miss places and events because you are not finding the right people,” he said.

Sign-in with a Facebook account or an email. Find out about events, secret concerts, parties or a celebrity sighting that just happened. The version 2.0 of the web app just launched on March 2 at SXSW with a bold new redesign. Updates include a new commenting system plus an integration with Google Maps, which allows individuals to access directions.

“We want to help people engage and show them content that’s relevant to them,” Barouch says. “For us, it’s sort of about the serendipitous nature of discovering places, activities and events.”

How does Roamz differ from other social media data websites?

“I think there is a number of ways. It’s aggregating from a number of sources and it’s really intelligent looking for signals,” he says. “It’s building a history about you really quickly.”

Part of the magic formula is an analysis of information from your connected social media accounts and items posted in Roamz.

“We eventually might know that you prefer Northern Italian food versus Southern, or that you like coffee in the morning but not after 3 p.m.,” wrote Heather Snodgrass, Roamz head of marketing and communications, in a blog post.

Roamz’s model revolves around getting people into new places, Barouch said. In the future, the team wants to use marketing and advertising-based models that allow businesses to sponsor posts. There will also be opportunities for small businesses to introduce special deals on Roamz or offer discounts to an interested network.

Image courtesy of Flickr, sarah_jordan

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, Facebook, foursquare, startup, Twitter

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The Pirate Bay Plans Robot Drone Servers to Dodge Law Enforcement

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 08:02 PM PDT

File-sharing site The Pirate Bay is planning to build robot drone planes to host its servers in the sky. That way, the thinking goes, law enforcement won’t be able to seize their machines without committing overtly aggressive acts such as firing the flying servers down with anti-aircraft weaponry.

“We can’t limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore,” the site said in a blog post Sunday. “These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we’re building, that’s more than enough.”

The Pirate Bay says the small drones will “float some kilometers up in the air.” They seem to be a way of simultaneously provoking and eluding law enforcement, which, according to the blog post, will have to either let their servers operate or commit “a real act of war.” It’s certainly an interesting idea, and something that would be fascinating to see play out.

The Pirate Bay has long connected users with massive collections of music and movie files, without regard for copyright infringement concerns. It’s drawn the ire of law enforcement as well, and is wary of more raids on its servers and property.

The robot-drone server-plane contraptions could go a long way toward thwarting such plans by police and government agencies. But it may be a while before we actually see those servers in the sky.

Says the Pirate Bay blog post: “We’re just starting so we haven’t figured everything out yet.”

Do you think this plan could actually work? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

More About: file sharing, legal, the pirate bay

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Could This Space Glove Turn You Into Superman? [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 07:28 PM PDT

Tired of not being able to pick up an overstuffed shopping bag? Want to change a tire without jacking up your car? Or maybe you just want to look cool at the gym without all that tedious weight training?

That’s the promise behind a new kind of glove that NASA and General Motors are working on. The Human Grasp Assist device, known to both organizations as the K-glove or Robo-Glove, may be aimed at auto workers and astronauts. In theory, however, it could help all of us grip heavy tools with ease — and as a bonus, make us less at risk for Repetitive Stress Injury.

“The Robo-Glove has the potential to reduce the amount of force that an auto worker would need to exert when operating a tool for an extended time or with repetitive motions,” Dana Komin, GM’s manufacturing engineering director, said in a press release.

Here’s how it works. The glove is covered in pressure sensors which can tell when you’re picking up a tool. Grasp it, and the glove’s “tendons” retract — holding the tool in position until you’re ready to release it. The amount of force required to hold an object using the glove is reduced by about ten pounds.

Of course, the glove also adds a bit of weight — about two pounds. That’s not counting the battery pack, which you’ll need to wear as a belt. There’s no launch date for the glove, and nobody’s talking about a commercial release yet. “Our goal is to bring this technology to the shop floor in the near future,” said Komin.

Still, it wouldn’t be the first technology to leave the confines of behemoths like GM and NASA and burst onto the consumer scene. How would you use this glove in your life? Let us know in the comments.

More About: GM, NASA, robotics

The Reddit User Who Landed a Hollywood Writing Deal

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 06:59 PM PDT

Leaping from whimsical Redditor to professional Hollywood screenwriter is the stuff of many Internet denizens’ dreams. But for James Erwin of Des Moines, Iowa, it’s just life these days.

During a lunch break last August, Erwin joined a Reddit thread and laid down the first installment of a sparse, noir-ish narrative addressing whether a modern American marine battalion could defeat the entire Roman Empire. Fellow Redditors were immediately hooked. They demanded more with up-votes and comments, pushing his work to the site’s front page. By day’s end, Erwin had an offer for representation from the talent management firm Madhouse Entertainment. Two weeks later, he had an offer from Warner Brothers to do a full screenplay.

Freelance journalist Jason Fagone wrote a fantastic full-length profile of Erwin for the most recent issue of Wired magazine (go buy it!). In the article, we learn Erwin may be lucky, but he’s also talented: he’s penned two encyclopedias, one on American secessionist movements, one on American military actions; he’s written for McSweeney’s, and he’s a two-time Jeopardy! winner.

We tracked Erwin down Monday to ask a few him questions ourselves. He’s part-time now at his old job writing software manuals for a financial services company. He works on the first-draft screenplay — called Rome Sweet Rome — between helping his wife prepare for their second child and care for their young son. Here’s what Erwin had to say about Reddit, writing, and his life’s crazy course of late.

Q&A with James Erwin

So just where does the project stand now on its way from Reddit to the movie screen?

Warner Brothers accepted the treatment and gave me a little feedback. The first draft screenplay has been vetted by my mangers, so now I have a month-and-a-half left to tweak it. Once I turn that in, then we’ll see who they get to be interested in the movie and see what gets changed depending on who acts and directs.

What was your reaction when you heard from Madhouse just hours after posting your first comment?

I wasn’t dubious, because I’d already been contacted by a producer from Europe and had several offers to syndicate the remainder of the story. I was cautious with everyone that first day, but thought it was entirely plausible the Madhouse guys were credible. I Googled them, and they seemed to have some big names and a good reputation on some of the message boards screenwriters use. So I thought, ‘If I’m going to make the most of this opportunity, I’m going to have to put my hand out there and trust people.’

What do you like so much about Reddit?

‘It’s the human condition plus points,’ is what I told Jason. What I love is it takes conversation and improvisation, and turns it into a game where you can see the points rack up in real-time. It almost makes it more addictive than the real world. It you’re speaking with someone, you can see if they like what you’re saying or not — but you don’t get points for it.

What’s happened to you over the past six months obviously wasn’t possible just a few years ago. Do you think your story right now is simply a creature of the Internet or something more particular to Reddit?

Reddit has a sense of immediacy a lot of other sites don’t. It’s possible to go to a lot of other sites and throw up a big chunk of information and hope people see it. But the way Reddit works, it’s wave after wave of viral content on the first page, because people have to constantly vote things up. In that regard it’s easier to put something up and see what people think of it very quickly. I think that’s a big part of what happened with Rome Sweet Rome. It wasn’t just that I put something good up. If I had posted that whole thing a few hours later, so many people might not have seen it. For everything to happen the way it did required that massive gut-level response. The whole thing was just so, so very lucky. I worked hard to get the skills that went into this, but it was a very brief window I was able to exploit.

More About: Entertainment, reddit

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20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz This Week [CHART]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 06:31 PM PDT

Since the March Madness college basketball tournament began last week, social media has dribbled and rebounded right along with it. Four NCAA games slam dunked their way onto our social TV chart.

The game that generated the most social media chatter? Duke vs. Lehigh. Normally a powerhouse favorite, Duke’s team crumbled under pressure from the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, the sure underdog. The upset shocked the social universe, and made for an even more thrilling tournament.

SEE ALSO: 7 Baller Apps to Follow March Madness Online

However, The Walking Dead took the top spot overall. Sunday night’s season two finale kept people glued to the TV and their social streams, hypothesizing possible season three scenarios. Until the next season premieres (expected around Halloween), fans will have to console themselves with #walkingdead hashtags and undead reruns.

The data below is compliments of our friends at Trendrr, who measure specific TV show activity (mentions, likes, checkins) across Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and Miso. To see daily rankings, check out Trendrr.TV.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, subjug

More About: features, Social Media, social tv, social tv charts, Trendrr, TV

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‘Hunger Games’ Dominates Facebook, Online Ticket Sales

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 06:07 PM PDT

Hunger Games

Buzz surrounding the upcoming film, The Hunger Games) is at a fever pitch — with social networks, movie ticket sites and the greater web in a frenzy.

Fans are already pre-ordering movie tickets for the film — which opens in the U.S. on Friday — at a frenetic pace. According to Fandango, more than 92% of total ticket sales this morning were for the film. Moreover, over 1,200 showtimes on Fandango are sold out.

Fandango tells us that the film is already tracking to be the biggest franchise-opener in the company’s history — even surpassing the first Twilight film. Deadline reports that 1 million tickets have already been pre-sold between Fandango and MovieTickets.com and that the film could make as much as $125 million in its opening weekend.

Meanwhile, we’re getting stats from Facebook Yahoo! Movies that show the film is dominating online.

The Facebook page for The Hunger Games movie has more than 3 million fans — with fan-growth up 215% since the beginning of the year. Facebook tells us that mentions of Suzanne Collins, the author of the book series, are up 240% in the last month. Fan growth for the book page is also up 230%.

The Hunger Games Adventure Facebook game launches on March 23 and includes an official map of Panem.

According to a poll on the movie’s Facebook page, 61% of respondents say that they plan to watch the movie “more than twice” — which means that box office success could go far beyond just opening weekend.

On March 12, Lionsgate presented the official live stream of the red carpet from The Hunger Games world premiere with Yahoo! Movies. Yahoo tells us that in the week surrounding the premiere, March 9-14, over 7 million streams of Hunger Games content was served. More than 1 million streams took place the day of the premiere. Hunger Games content on Yahoo exceeded 30 million page views over the 5-day period.

Huge Hit on Mobile

Given the target audience for the film and book series, it should be no surprise that the film is driving lots of web traffic and ticket sales through mobile devices.

Yahoo tells us that 10% of the 7 million Hunger Games video streams it served last week were to mobile devices.

Coincidentally, Fandango and Yahoo just signed a partnership that makes Fandango the online ticketer for Yahoo! Movies on the desktop and on the mobile web. Fandango says it is seeing double-digit growth of ticket sales from mobile devices and the figure is expected to grow.

SEE ALSO: 7 Ways to Follow ‘The Hunger Games’ Movie on Social Media

Lionsgate has been hard at work on a strong viral campaign for the film, engaging with fans on Facebook and Twitter to build buzz and awareness.

Fans are responding positively, with Hunger Games-related memes making their way across the web.

Social media and digital buzz aren’t always an accurate predictor for box office success but we think that with The Hunger Games, what’s happening online will correlate strongly with the real-world results

More About: Facebook, fandango, online tickets, the hunger games, Yahoo

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‘Tebowing’ Will Outlive QB’s Denver Days, Says Meme’s Creator

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 05:36 PM PDT

With the Denver Broncos reportedly negotiating a contract for NFL legend Peyton Manning, quarterback Tim Tebow appears on his way out of town. But there’s no need to say a prayer for “Tebowing,” the campy Internet meme that dominated the web last fall, says Jared Kleinstein, the 24-year-old inventor of the viral meme.

ESPN reported on Monday that free agent Manning has chosen the Broncos as his new team, and that Denver will look to trade Tebow. Kleinstein says the turn of events would be bittersweet for him as a Denver fan, but the meme will live on regardless of space or time.

“No matter where he’s playing or what color he’s wearing, people will still be Tebowing,” Kleinstein told Mashable. “People will always see his accomplishments and look up to him on and off the field.”

A Denver native, Kleinstein coined the term after Tebow led the Broncos to an improbable comeback victory in his first start of the football season on Oct. 23. Watching from a Manhattan bar, Kleinstein saw Tebow lower himself to one knee and strike a peaceful, prayerful pose as the stadium around him went nuts. Kleinstein then mimicked the pose outside the bar “to pay tribute” and had a friend snap a photo.

He posted the photo to Facebook and, without much thought, bought the Tebowing.com domain name, so he and his friends to shoot themselves striking the now-infamous pose in random places. Two days later, the site had 350,000 unique visitors and Kleinstein was receiving photos from all over the globe. Robert Downey Jr. Tebowed last month at the Oscars.

Kleinstein still receives more than a dozen submissions and “thousands” of site visitors per day. He’s also sitting on a trove of more than 21,000 photos from Tebowers from all over the world.

“I could post a picture a day for the next 57 years if I wanted to,” he says with a laugh.

Tebowing has become so ubiquitous in popular culture that many people Kleinstein knows seem to wonder if he’s holding up alright with all the talk of trading teams.

“It’s a funny feeling — now a lot of my friends and people I grew up with are saying, ‘I’m sorry,’ to me, like I’m the one leaving,” he says.

But how does Kleinstein the football fan feel about his team’s probable change in personnel?

“I can’t really speculate until anything changes for sure,” he says. “But I posted on my Facebook status this morning that it’s like getting divorced from the love of your life and eloping with a new hottie the same day.”

Tebowing Stonehenge

Click here to view this gallery.

All images courtesy of Tebowing.com

BONUS: Did Twitter Predict Manning to Denver?

Between March 7 and March 18, Manning was mentioned with the Broncos more than 47,000 times on Twitter. People mentioned Manning with his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, nearly 37,000 times. He was mentioned in conjunction with the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans about 27,000 each during that time period, and with the San Francisco 49ers about 6,000 times. Manning’s Broncos-related mentions were overwhelmingly positive, too, in comparison to the other teams involved the the past ten days’ drama. Check out this chart from the social media research firm Topsy for more on how the Manning talk has trended:

More About: memes, sports, Tebowing

Are You In Control of Your Social Media Privacy? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 04:55 PM PDT

By now, we know that social media behavior differs, based on factors like gender, age and nationality. It turns out, how you manage your social media privacy may depend on similar indicators.

ZoneAlarm created the below infographic, based on a 2012 study by Pew. The research points to gender-specific privacy practices. For instance, men are nearly twice as likely as women to profess regret for posting online content. On the other hand, men are more likely to maintain public social media presences.

So, are you among the 11% of social media users who have posted content they regret? How actively do you manage your public social media persona? Do you find it difficult to manage privacy settings? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Darwin Bell

More About: features, infographic, privacy, security, Social Media

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The Creators Project Blurs Line Between Art and Technology [PICS]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 04:24 PM PDT

Technology and art came together in San Francisco this past weekend at The Creators Project, an event designed to showcase the talents of emerging and established artists who are using technology to create art.

The project is part of a partnership between Intel and Vice and was initially sparked by the admiration of the artistic movement of Paris in the 20s.

"We wanted to bring the world's most innovative tech artists together, provide them with the best resources in technology, remove barriers, and give the tech and art world ground-breaking global exposure, "David Haroldsen Intel’s Creative Director for The Creators Project told Mashable.

The event has been held previously at several locations in the U.S. as well as locations abroad including France, Brazil, South Korea, China, and the UK.

"The countries we travel to in our global event series are all comprised of innovative communities at the forefront of the marriage of art and technology,” said Haroldsen. “Many of our creators are based out of these countries which has in turn helped us further expand, enabling us to form relationships with more and more forthcoming artists in the art and tech communities.”

Both well-established an emerging artists take part in the two-day event.

"We tap into our global Vice offices and our existing creators and look for emerging and leading artists that, at the highest level, use technology to push their own creative works,” said Hosi Simon, GM of Vice. “We look for innovation through collaboration, creative distribution methods, groundbreaking production methods, and their use of processing power.”

While the event only took place over one weekend, the company’s relationship with the artists last much longer. "We discuss the artists' dreams and ambitions in great detail, and find ways of how The Creators Project can help them reach their goals. We want to create long-term partnerships and collaborations between the artists and The Creators Project, as well as between the creators from different media and cultures," Simon added.

Check out some of the highlights from the event in the gallery blow, and let us know what’s your favorite in the comments.

Origin -- United Visual Artists

Origin, a giant LED cube, was set up outside at the center of the event.

Image courtesy of Bob Patterson

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: art, intel, San Francisco-San Jose, technology

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Amazon to Buy Robot Maker for $775 Million

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 03:53 PM PDT

Amazon will acquire robotics firm Kiva Systems for $755 million in cash, the Internet retailer announced Monday.

The firm makes robots that can navigate fulfillment warehouse floors using barcode stickers, fetch an item to be packed and deliver it to an appropriate worker.

“By making inventory items move, instead of the workers, they can fulfill orders faster,” explains a Kiva Systems YouTube video.

Saving a little time can save a lot of money for Amazon, which spent about $4 billion in outbound shipping costs in 2011.

"Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva's technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow," said Amazon VP of Global Customer Fulfillment Dave Clark in a statement.

Kiva Systems first became profitable in 2011, according to Fast Company. Last year alone, it added 24 customers, including Toys “R” Us and Timberland.

The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.

More About: amazon, Kiva Systems, supply chain

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Who’s Responsible When Robots Kill? ‘We Robot’ Conference Hunts Answers

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 03:31 PM PDT


Who is ultimately responsible for the behavior of autonomous robots? That’s the central question that a new conference on robots aims to tackle.

Why ask the question? Well, imagine that today’s robot vacuums and floor washers (like the recently upgraded Scooba) eventually spawn cousins who mow lawns and trim hedges. Now imagine that robot hedge trimmer chopping off your neighbor’s arm.

“We Robot,” taking place at the University of Miami School of Law April 21-22, will examine how the increasing sophistication and deployment of robots is challenging existing law and policies.

“Robots are the next Internet, ” says A. Michael Froomkin, the law-school professor who conceived the conference. “They’re going to be everywhere, and they’re going to be important. Somebody better get in on the ground floor and start thinking about legal issues.”

Unlike the Internet, though, robots actually physically interact with the world — an “iPhone with a corkscrew and chainsaw attached,” as Froomkin describes them. As robots slowly become more common, they’ll inevitably run up against legal issues, he says.

“If you have millions of these things deployed everywhere, it’s just absolutely inevitable that someone’s going to claim that they were injured by one at some point. And that’s going the be a lawsuit. So let’s get lawyers involved and people in a room, and let’s start worrying about these things.”

SEE ALSO: The Pentagon is Building a Robot Army [VIDEO]

Given today’s laws, Froomkin says the “knee-jerk” reaction to dealing with a robot-inflicted injury or death would be to turn to product liability law. But he’s quick to point out some day-after-tomorrow scenarios where finding who’s responsible isn’t quite so simple.

“Do you blame the manufacturer, the programmer or the owner? If it’s a robot that’s capable of emergent behavior, do you blame the neighbor that had a chat with it and taught it some bad habits? Sometimes the vocabulary isn’t even there to deal with the problem.”

Froomkin hopes We Robot 2012 creates a group of thinkers, one that goes on to have some influence when robots do eventually become commonplace in our society.

“I hope we’ll be able to create a community, that people are going to be able to talk about these issues,” he says. “I’d like to help people build a path so we’ll be able to build robots that cause fewer legal headaches for investors and designers, that we’ll be able to speed safe deployment, and that we’ll be able to begin to focus on the really tough issues in the hopes of solving them.”

What questions do you have about robots in our society that you’d like to see explored? Share your thoughts in the comments.

More About: irobot, Robot, robots

VeriFone: We Process More Transactions Than Square

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 03:04 PM PDT

VeriFone claimed on Monday that its PAYware Connect payment solution is being used in $10 billion of annual transactions, more than double the $4 billion that rival Square has cited.

VeriFone, which has previously kept the details of its PAYware business close to the vest, fired off a press release Monday claiming the $10 billion figure. "The $10 billion milestone is an industry first, and clearly sets VeriFone well ahead of the competition," CEO Douglas Bergeron says in the release. "We expect continued great momentum in this exciting range of payment service offerings."

The announcement comes less than a week after PayPal announced its mobile payment solution, PayPal Here. The other major player in the mobile payments segment, Intuit, hasn’t released details around its GoPayment option.

The release doesn’t outline transactions related to PAYware Mobile, VeriFone’s iPhone-based solution for processing credit cards. PAYware Mobile is considered part of PAYware Connect, which is a mostly web-based suite of products that let small businesses and entrepreneurs process payments.

Though PAYware Connect is designed for “any computer with an Internet connection and Internet Explorer,” according to VeriFone, the release notes that the $10 billion in annual transactions is a “first for the mobile payments industry.” A VeriFone rep notes that more than half the merchants who use PAYware connect are “mobile merchants.” However, he did not outline what percentage of revenues came from such merchants or how PAYware Connect is considered a “mobile” platform.

SEE ALSO: How PayPal Here Stacks Up Against Other Mobile Payment Options

VeriFone introduced PAYware Mobile in February 2010 with an iPhone app and a sleeve. Using both, small businesses and entrepreneurs could process credit cards via their iPhones.

Square, which is led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, launched publicly a few months later, in October 2010. Like PAYware, Square is a hardware/software solution that lets users accept credit card payments via their smartphones. Partly because of Dorsey’s background, his company has attracted more attention than VeriFone’s PAYware Mobile.

Though Square claims it has more than 1 million merchants using the platform, VeriFone hasn’t detailed its comparable figure. Like Square, PAYware’s niche is with businesses that haven’t had the means to process credit cards until now, including taxicabs and vendors without traditional countertop and mobile card acceptance devices.

Square declined to comment on this article.

More About: paypal, Square, VeriFone

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How to Establish and Grow Business Relationships

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 02:38 PM PDT

David Nour is the thought leader on relationship economics, the quantifiable value of business relationships. The Nour Group, Inc. helps organizations drive growth through unique return on their strategic relationships.

By now, you have a robust profile on LinkedIn, you tweet several times a day with hashtags, you have a Facebook Page, several videos on YouTube, and you’ve even created several clever boards on Pinterest. You attend a handful of networking events every month, and you venture out to interesting events like SXSW a couple of times every year. But after all that, how do you build your social circle and influential contacts in key centers of influence?

How do you maintain, nurture, and ideally, bridge the gap between relationship creation and relationship capitalization? How do you turn friends and followers into active, interested social currency. How do you foster engagement to create valuable, lasting relationships?

Well, it has to do with the evolution of our on- and off-line business relationships. How do our business relationships evolve, why do we screw some up, and how can we repair them? Why do some partner, client, investor, supplier or even colleague relationships tend to accelerate naturally, while others fizzle and never fully materialize as you had hoped?

Quite simply, the manner in which we build business relationships has evolved. Find out how to keep the pace.

Initial Contact

You meet someone or, ideally, are referred through a trusted introduction. Tossing an unsolicited email over the wall is a losing proposition. Online and in-person relationships are getting more sophisticated, better protected and constantly pressured for efficiency and effectiveness.

The critical focus here is to add value in every interaction, to provoke, or to provide a contrarian perspective. In other words, if you want to elevate yourself above the noise, ensure that a person remembers your conversation. I recommend that you become well-read in a variety of topics, listen intently, question constantly, and capitalize on the value of brevity (aka Twitter etiquette). Finally, get to the point without pontificating.

Additional Interaction

If, during the initial contact, you made a strong, positive and value-centric impression, people will begin to seek you out. The conversation was impactful enough to warrant immediate action on their behalf.

Their follow-up email starts, “I left our visit excited about the conversation on X topic,” or “I enjoyed meeting you and discussing X technology.” The timeliness of their response should communicate that your interaction was a priority.

But what if the roles are reversed, and you’re the one following up? Here are my recommendations.

  • Pre-Initial Contact: Research the event, the topic of discussion, potential attendees, industry trends, topical conversation starters and recent similar events. And get there early! If you’ve already been introduced online to the person you’re targeting, reinforce credibility by association. If you were engaged around an interesting topic, bring up a question to jump-start the next interaction.
  • During the Event: Engage proactively, be present in each conversation, add value, don’t be a conversation hog, and don’t distribute business cards excessively. After speaking, immediately capture a couple of notes about the conversation. Be as diligent disengaging from conversations as you were proactive in initiating them. Finally, anticipate their needs; simply meeting their current or articulated needs is not enough. Don’t let them ask you for more.
  • Immediately After: Send a brief follow-up note the same day, and include something of value, for example, a link to relevant data, a PDF of an article, a couple bullet points of interest, or an introduction to an influential relationship. Finally, proactively suggest a next step.

    Be interested but casual. Pace yourself — too much, too fast turns most people off. Be poignant, practical and pragmatic and always give them options, for example, “Can we meet or Skype next Tuesday or Thursday at these times? If next week is bad for you, let me know what the following week looks like on your calendar.”

    If the person’s business stature is higher, position yourself as a peer and don’t get delegated to others down the food chain. If the business stature is same or lower, be humble and make time. Most importantly, be candid: “Apologies in advance. I travel extensively, so please don’t take my unavailability as a lack of interest — it’s simply a lack of immediate bandwidth.”

  • A Week Later: If you haven’t heard anything in a week, call and email to make sure they received your follow-up. Be professional and polished, and remember to add value at every interaction.

    If you don’t get any response, ask yourself whether you could have done anything differently. If you didn’t add sufficient value in your early interactions, pestering them won’t do much good. Move on and focus on working with, helping and adding value to relevant, responsive contacts.

Additional best practices: Demonstrate unquestionable integrity, have pride in the relationship, garner a personal passion to work together, and earn a person’s vested interest in the long-term viability of the relationship.

Never lose sight of the fact that your performance, execution and results rely on fostering relationships. Lack thereof will dilute your credibility and relevance. Remain competent within your industry and among your peers, and the resulting value will match the effort.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, shironosov

More About: Business, contributor, features, Marketing, networking, pr

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New iPad Has a Smart Cover Problem

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 02:21 PM PDT

Magnets: How do they work? Differently on the new iPad than on the iPad 2, it has emerged — and that’s bad news for anyone with an old or third-party smart cover.

A number of users who bought new iPads over the weekend (this reporter included) were dismayed to discover that the smart covers they’d bought for the iPad 2 didn’t work on the new model.

Smart covers, which attach to the iPad’s built-in magnets, are supposed to turn the tablet on automatically when you flip them open. But as dozens of iPad users in this Apple forum concurred, that was no longer the case with many smart covers on the new iPad.

That seemed odd, as the new iPad is physically no different from the iPad 2 — on the surface, at least. But it turns out Apple has been messing with the polarity of its magnets under the hood.

Photographer Mark Booth uncovered this when he did some experiments with magnets, iPads and a couple of smart covers. You can see the results in a video on Booth’s blog.

“The iPad 2′s sleep/wake sensor wasn’t polarity specific,” Booth explains. And that apparently led to an issue for iPad 2 users who flipped their smart covers around so that they sat flush with the back of the tablet — an everyday act that could cause the iPad 2 to switch off unintentionally.

So it seems the new iPad’s sleep/wake sensor does require a specific polarity. But in fixing one issue, Apple appears to have caused another for users who want to use their old smart covers with their new tablets. (We’ve asked Apple to comment, and will update you if we hear back.)

Booth theorizes that Apple quietly made the polarity change in their smart covers at some point in 2011, since newer Apple-made smart covers do seem to work with the new iPad. If you got yours for the holidays, there’s a good chance you won’t see a problem.

If your smart cover hails from early 2011, try taking it back to the Apple store; Booth says he’s hearing from users that the store will exchange old smart covers for new ones. Owners of third-party smart covers, however — such as the beautiful wood covers from Miniot — appear to be out of luck.

And it may not simply be a case of having to turn the new tablet on manually. In tests using my Miniot as a stand — the other purpose of the smart cover — the new iPad’s screen was plagued by fuzzy electronic lines and flashing artifacts.

Do you own a smart cover and a new iPad? Have you noticed this issue? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: The New iPad

The New iPad Details Hit Apple.com

The new 9.7-inch iPad has 2048 x 1536-pixel retina display, 5-megapixel camera (with the same optics sensor from the iPhone 4S) and 1080p video recording. It is available March 16 in black and white, powered by A5X chip (with quad-core graphics) and supports 4G LTE networks. It's 9.4 millimeters thick and 1.4 pounds.

Wi-Fi only iPads cost $499 for 16 GB, $599 32 GB and $699 for 64 GB, while 4G versions cost $629 for 16 GB, $729 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. Pre-orders start today, and the devices will be in stores March 16 in these 10 countries: U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Credit: Apple.com

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More About: apple, ipad, iPad 2, Smart Cover, trending

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Apple Sold 3 Million iPads Opening Weekend

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 02:07 PM PDT

Apple announced on Monday that it has sold 3 million new iPads since the device launch on March 16.

The company, which had cited “record” sales earlier in the day, has now backed up that boast. "The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold―the strongest iPad launch yet," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of wordwide marketing, said in a press release from the company. "Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, including the stunning Retina display, and we can't wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday."

Laying out opening weekend results is fairly unusual for Apple, which typically waits until its quarterly meeting with analysts to outline such numbers.

Apple didn’t outline opening weekend sales for its previous iPad releases. However, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated that Apple sold 400,000 to 500,000 iPad 2s the first weekend they went on sale last March. However, Munster said that Apple sold out of iPad 2s and would have sold more if there had been more on hand.

In 2010, Apple claimed that it sold 300,000 iPads on the first day they went on sale. Munster estimates that the company sold 600,000 to 700,000 iPads that weekend.

Unlike past iPad releases, the new iPad was available in 12 countries at launch. Apple is expanding the launch to 24 additional countries on March 23 at 8:00 a.m. local time.

BONUS: The New iPad

The New iPad Details Hit Apple.com

The new 9.7-inch iPad has 2048 x 1536-pixel retina display, 5-megapixel camera (with the same optics sensor from the iPhone 4S) and 1080p video recording. It is available March 16 in black and white, powered by A5X chip (with quad-core graphics) and supports 4G LTE networks. It's 9.4 millimeters thick and 1.4 pounds.

Wi-Fi only iPads cost $499 for 16 GB, $599 32 GB and $699 for 64 GB, while 4G versions cost $629 for 16 GB, $729 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. Pre-orders start today, and the devices will be in stores March 16 in these 10 countries: U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Credit: Apple.com

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More About: apple, ipad, new ipad, tablets

Racist Tweets Could Land Twitter User In Jail

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 01:59 PM PDT

British student Liam Stacey, who admitted to posting racially offensive comments on Twitter during a soccer match, now faces criminal charges and will be sentenced on March 27.

Stacey, 21, tweeted the remarks on Saturday using the handle @LiamStacey9 after Fabrice Muamba, who plays for the U.K. Bolton Wanderers, collapsed on the field and had a heart attack during a live televised soccer match. “‘LOL, F___ Muamba. He’s dead,” Stacey tweeted.

When a number of other users responded with outrage, Stacey replied to them using repeated racial slurs and epithets. He told one to “go back to picking cotton,” according to prosecutors. And that was one of the least offensive examples.

Stacey’s Twitter account has since been taken down, and he has been ordered not to use any social networking sites.

Stacey was arrested on Sunday under a “public order offense” after users reported his comments. He pleaded guilty to racially-aggravated public order offense to incite violence on Monday and was released on bail.

According to reports, Stacey tried to “distance himself” from the tweets by claiming his account had been hacked and later trying to delete the page. However, he was arrested before he could take down the account and later admitted to posting the comments, according to the BBC.

When he appeared at his local court after his arrest, he was told that his comments could land him in jail.

In the U.K., police forces “regularly take action against those who post racially offensive remarks on Twitter,” though these actions by the police are rarely made public.

Stacey says that he was drunk when he posted the racially-offensive comments on Twitter and told the police: “I was at the bar when I heard what had happened to Muamba. I don’t know why I posted it.” Muamba remains in critical condition Monday.

What do you think about Stacey’s arrest? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RapidEye.

More About: freedom of speech, sports, trending, Twitter, United Kingdom

iOS Gaming is About to Get Massively Social — and Asynchronous

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 01:40 PM PDT

Infinity Blade II ClashMob Night Quest

Imagine a massive multiplayer game. Now imagine one that you play on your own schedule. That's the idea behind asynchronous multiplayer game and it's also at the heart of the popular Infinity Blade II's new ClashMob feature.

Infinity Blade, which across two versions and a book has grossed over $30 million dollars, has amassed a loyal following on the iPhone and iPad (but not Android). Infinity Blade II was first in line for compatibility with the new iPad's high-definition Retina display. Later this year, the game's developer, Chair, will roll with a new version called Dungeons. In the meantime, though, Chair has cooked up what its company execs thinks is one of the first massively social gameplay challenge modes and it's called ClashMobs.

Infinity Blade II MyMob Menu

The concept is simple. Instead of playing against other Infinity Blade owners in real time, you join, potentially, thousands of other players on asynchronous quests. One such quest might involve finding as many bags of gold as possible in a 30-second time-span. Each person who joins the mob only has 30 seconds, but since you're part of a ClashMob, everything you collect is added together. If 100,000 players each find enough bags, all the players in the mob could win game gold or even a special sword.

According to Chair Entertainment founders Donald and Geremy Mustard, finding and joining mobs will be easy. Players will also have a MyMobs interface which will automatically list anyone on their Facebook, Twitter and GameCenter networks who is also an Infinity Blade II owner. Those who are on a player's friends lists and are also playing Infinity Blade will show up in the MyMob list. The player can recruit any of them to join one of their ClashMob conquests.

Though some might consider this method of building mobs invasive, Donald Mustard said he prefers it this way. "I'm too lazy to invite my friends to do stuff. We wanted a much more passive system." He said the system won't spam your friends, but it does automatically assemble your mob.

Infinity Blade II - Choose Your ClashMob

Quests for game booty, however, are just the beginning. Don Mustard said it’s a "first toe in the water to more asynchronous, social side of how we can create new gameplay experiences." Eventually, Infinity Blade II's technology will tap into your phone's GPS to launch location-based ClashMobs. Among the scenarios the Mustards described was a Super Bowl quest that uses your location to pit groups of people from each team's home state against each other in a quest. Another starts the quest while you're waiting on line to see a movie. If Chair has partnered with the local movie chain, they could tie the reward to theater you're at: Find all the in-game gold (with enough of your friends in a ClashMob) and get a discount at the concession stand.

"There’s so much we can do with these kinds of systems, I just can't wait to see where it leads us," said Don Mustard. The ClashMobs feature should arrive in April as part of a free Infinity Blade II update that’s expected to greater advantage of the iPad’s new retina display.

Massively multi-player gaming is nothing new, but doing it asynchronously on your iPad or iPhone could subtly change the casual gaming experience. Is this how you want to play or would you still rather go it alone? Let us know in the comments.

Bonus: Infinity Blade II Game Play

Infinity Blade 2

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More About: games, ipad, iphone

Tumblr Blog Sheds Light on American Housing Crisis

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 01:19 PM PDT

America Underwater

America Underwater, a new Tumblr blog, is creating a community of Americans living in debt due to underwater mortgages.

The blog, launched by economic justice group Rebuild the Dream, highlights individual stories of the housing crisis while reminding those affected they are part of a significant trend.

“The idea is to show how common and how big of a problem underwater mortgages are, while also putting a human face on the situation,” says Jim Pugh, chief technical officer of Rebuild the Dream.

Tumblr was the natural choice, Pugh says, because of its emphasis on visuals and its accessibility. The popular Occupy Wall Street Tumblr We Are the 99 Percent inspired America Underwater.

The idea for the blog spun from the case of southern California homeowner Arturo de los Santos, who Rebuild the Dream says is being unjustly evicted. Santos, a former marine, tried to rework his mortgage with his bank to get the interest rate adjusted. His bank told him to stop paying for seven months — which he did — but he was later evicted by J.P. Morgan Chase.

“The system they have now is not working,” Pugh says. “We’re trying to blow this up so there’s more national attention.”

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Create a Group Tumblr Blog

In addition to sharing stories, America Underwater hopes to have the Obama administration replace Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) director Ed DeMarco with someone who will prioritize $300 billion of principal reduction.

America Underwater also hosts a data-driven website, which serves as an educational resource about the mortgage crisis and maps underwater mortgages by state. It estimates that some 11 million homeowners are drowning in their mortgage debt — which is roughly 25% of all American mortgages.

What do you think of America Underwater? Do you think Tumblr can be a powerful storytelling tool? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Image via America-Underwater.tumblr.com

BONUS: 5 Non-Profits Winning on Tumblr

1. Draw in Outsiders

Tumblr's tags are a great way to appeal to people who've never heard of your non-profit.

Meatless Monday, which campaigns for people go meat-free for one day of the week, posts tasty food photos and recipes (like this one for grilled pepper ring pizza). A search for "pizza recipes," for example, can bring in new users that might not have known about the non-profit and its cause.

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More About: economy, Social Good, tumblr

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James Cameron Ventures to Deepest Part of Earth in a One-Man Sub [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 01:00 PM PDT

James Cameron, the Academy Award winning director of the ‘Titanic’, will be the first director to film a venture to the deepest point of Earth in a one-man submarine.

He is heading to Challenger Deep, which is the deepest part of the Mariana Trench off the coast of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean. Challenger Deep has been explored only once before, 52 years ago. Due to the lack of technology in the Bathyscaphe Trieste submarine, deep sea explorers Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh couldn’t see a thing in the pitch black Mariana Trench in 1960. They certainly didn’t take photos or video footage.

Cameron will navigate in the Deepsea Challenger submarine, and he will remain submerged for up to six hours at risky depths. This dive will be Cameron’s eighth — his other dives include trips to explore the Titanic twice.

If successful, submarine engineers will marvel over their scientific wonder. The sub is custom built and loaded with electronics, four HD cameras, a boom mounted light and a 7 foot panel of LEDs capable of lighting 100 feet ahead in clear water. Going this deep into the ocean will put extreme pressure on the ship. The sphere-shaped sub has a fixed internal atmosphere, so Cameron won’t have to pop his ears before the dive.

The submarine is expected to descend in two hours, leaving Cameron plenty of time to explore. It took the former crew five hours to reach the Mariana Trench, and they spent 20 minutes at the bottom of the ocean.

The sub will reemerge in a different part of the ocean. Cameron will be stuck in the submarine until the above sea crew opens the sub door because it does not open from the inside.

More About: james cameron, submarine, Video

3 Ways Marketers Can Reach Facebook’s Mobile Audience

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 12:34 PM PDT


Victoria Ransom is founder and CEO of Wildfire Interactive, the global leader in social media marketing software. Victoria is a sought-after expert on social marketing trends and was recently named a 2012 TechFellow by the Founders Fund, NEA and TechCrunch. Visit here for more information about Facebook mobile marketing.

Facebook recently revealed big plans for the mobile platform, for instance, that the new Timeline format for brands will be available on mobile. Facebook also revealed that more than 450 million people use Facebook Mobile on a monthly basis, and more importantly, that mobile is outgrowing desktop use on the social network 2:1.

For these reasons, Facebook has planned a variety of mobile-centric products, including last week's announcement that brands will now be able to advertise in mobile news feeds through Sponsored Stories.

These game-changing trends mean that marketers need to get serious about mobile in 2012. Here are three new ways you can build mobile into your Facebook marketing plan.

1. Mobile-Optimize All Your Content.

Timeline for brands is coming to the mobile platform in 2012. When you consider that brand pages on Facebook Mobile have had almost no functionality — custom apps haven't worked without a complicated hack-job, tabs haven't translated, etc. — it seems possible that Timeline for brands was launched specifically to enable brands' mobile Facebook capabilities.

And since users’ Timelines function on Facebook Mobile, Timeline for brands should be equally versatile, giving brands the ability to provide engaging mobile experiences for the first time.

Since nearly half of Facebook users access the site through a mobile device, your brand's reach could effectively double if you mobile-optimize your social content. And because users will soon be able to experience the same workflow on their desktops as their smartphones, page managers will now be able to curate an identical experience for all users, regardless of viewing device.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Brand Timelines: 6 Big Changes Every Marketer Needs to Understand

Whether you're building engagement applications in-house or with a social marketing software vendor, make sure the applications are seamlessly viewable across all platforms and devices. Ideally, you'll be able to design once and deploy anywhere. That way, you’ll avoid messy synchronization issues, duplication of effort between creative teams, and working around multiple content channels.

Applications that use a "responsive design" framework are gaining popularity. The framework employs specific HTML5, CSS and Javascript technologies to ensure that the same content displays well on devices of any screen size. In the context of Facebook mobile pages, apps built within this framework can morph Facebook page tabs — for mobile, tablets and desktops — with one build.

2. Integrate Sponsored Stories Into Your Marketing.

To date, there has been no way to advertise to Facebook users on mobile devices. This has been an enormous lost opportunity for marketers — until now.

Now, Sponsored Stories premium ad units will not only appear in users' news feeds (a huge announcement on its own), but also in mobile news feeds. Considering the many users who access Facebook from a mobile device, marketers now have a big opportunity to embed sponsored advertisements within mobile feeds. The challenge is how to make this work with your existing Facebook marketing program.

The most effective way to integrate Sponsored Stories into your marketing is to work them into an editorial calendar. Since Sponsored Stories stem from the activities of users on your brand's Page, create a calendar of activities that translate well to the Sponsored Story format. For example, a local retail store could plan its weekly status updates, featuring in-store specials and colorful coupons as Sponsored Stories. Just make sure to use eye-catching images to help your promoted posts attract attention.

3. Use Facebook Mobile to Fuel Offline Campaigns.

Mobile-optimized social campaign marketing can also be used to enhance consumers' in-store experiences. In fact, according to comScore, 36% of the U.S. smartphone population used their phones to perform retail research while inside a store in 2011. And Nielsen states that, by the end of 2011, nearly one in five smartphone users scanned product barcodes, and nearly one in eight compared prices while in a store.

There is a lot of room for creating social campaigns with seamless mobile components, such as unique codes for scanning, in addition to more traditional social campaign approaches like promotions and exclusive content.

When planning online and offline campaigns, include in-store signage. This is crucial to the success of a mobile campaign, and is a key driver of participation. Many brands will advertise promotions on their Pages, designed to drive activity in-store, but do not replicate this messaging in the store. Unfortunately, this misses the in-store consumers who haven't interacted on your fan page beforehand. Capture their interest socially first, then reinforce your message in-store to create a deeper, longer-term connection with the consumer.

The next thing to keep in mind is simplicity, which is the key to a successful social-to-in-store campaign. That multi-step scavenger hunt, which extends from your Page all the way into the shelves of your store may sound like a creative idea, but it will most certainly narrow engagement. Keep the proposition simple so users can easily get involved.

For example, Sprinkles Cupcakes consistently posts messages to its Page, encouraging fans to check in daily for a "secret word." Fans who discover the secret word on Sprinkles' Facebook Timeline can whisper it, in-store, to get a free cupcake. Sprinkles' approach yields continuous check-ins on its Page, where other marketing messages appear alongside the secret word.

Marketers cannot ignore the staggering growth of users who access the Internet and social networks via mobile. Get mobile right and you've effectively doubled your social network reach. Start by mobile-optimizing your content, testing mobile Sponsored Stories, and linking mobile to your in-store campaigns. And please share more mobile marketing strategies in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman

More About: contributor, Facebook, facebook mobile, facebook pages, features, Marketing, Mobile, Sponsored Stories

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Got Tons of Facebook Friends? You May Be a Narcissist, Says Study [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 12:15 PM PDT

Do you have tons of Facebook friends and often update your status? If so, you may be a narcissist, a new study suggests.

Research from Western Illinois University showed a link between the number of Facebook friends you have and how active you are on the site to the likelihood of being a “socially disruptive” narcissist.

The study — which was recently published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences — was conducted among 300 participants, who took a Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire.

Those with more Facebook friends, tagged themselves in photos and updated their status throughout the day were more likely to have narcissistic traits.

“People who have a heightened need to feel good about themselves will often turn to Facebook as a way to do so,” study author Chris Carpenter from Western Illinois University told Mashable.

“Facebook gives those with narcissistic tendencies the opportunity to exploit the site to get the feedback they need and become the center of attention.”

SEE ALSO: Survey Says Facebook Feeds Narcissism [STUDY]

Carpenter said that Facebook users that self-promote themselves on the site show signs of two narcissistic behaviors. The first is called grandiose exhibition (GE), which refers to people who love to be the center of attention. The second is a category that involves entitlement/explotiveness (EE), which indicates how far people will go to get the respect and attention they think they deserve.

“There isn’t a baseline of how many friends a person has or how often they update their status that would qualify as them to have these narcissistic characteristics,” Carpenter said. “However, it’s interesting to note how often these people use first-person pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘me’ on the site.”

This isn’t the first time a study has been conducted about Facebook narcissists. In 2010, a study published from York University highlighted the differences between how men and women self-promoted themselves on Facebook.

Men tended to promote themselves in the “About Me” description, while women used pictures that "include[d] revealing, flashy and adorned photos of their physical appearance."

Do you think narcissism can be linked to how people use Facebook? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook, Social Media, trending

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Teens Are Sending, Receiving 60 Texts a Day [STUDY]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 12:01 PM PDT

Teens are texting more than ever — and their thumb-crunching habits are showing no signs of slowing, according to a new study.

A new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project revealed that the amount of texts sent and receive each day among teenagers has jumped in the past few years, especially among boys, older teens and African-Americans.

The study looked at the behavior of nearly 800 teens ages 12 to 17 during a three-part survey between April and July 2011 and a series of focus groups involving 57 people ages 12 to 19.

Teens on average are sending and receiving 60 texts each day, up from 50 in 2009. The increase is being led by older teens ages 14-17, who went from a median of 60 texts a day to a whopping 100 two years later.

Girls are still the most active texters, sending and receiving a median of 100 texts a day compared to boys sending 50. However, boys are texting more than they were just two years ago — in 2009, they sent about 30 each day. African-American teens are also texting more, up to 80 each day from 60 in 2009.

Of the entire group, 75% of teens said they actively text, and one in four say they own a smartphone. Not surprisingly, voice calls are down.

SEE ALSO: Texting Teens: Typing Replaces Talking [INFOGRAPHIC]

Texting is by far the most popular way for teens to communicate. While 63% of teens say they text every day, only 39% said they make calls on their phones on a daily basis or send messages through social networking sites (29%). In addition, 35% said they socialize face to face outside of school. The big loser in teen communication is email, with only 6% of teens using it as a means to communicate with friends.

However, the study found that those who text more frequently are more likely to talk on the phone with their friends.

Do you think texting will ever replace phone calls? As teens get older, do you think they will eventually embrace email? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, izusek

BONUS: The Funniest Texting Fails by Parents

1. Flip Phone

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: cellphones, Pew Internet, Pew Internet & American Life Project, smartphones, texting, trending

Musician Uses iPad as Drums to Cover Katy Perry’s ‘Part of Me’ [VIDEO]

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 11:47 AM PDT

Armed with an iPad 2, Dallas-based musician Tanner Patrick turned the tablet into a drum machine to put his spin on pop star Katy Perry’s newest song, “Part of Me.” His cover has attracted 100,000 views in six days.

While unsigned musicians on YouTube sometimes employ tech to edit, mix and produce their music videos, very few have given starring roles to unconventional music gadgets such as tablets and smartphones.

Patrick downloaded the EasyBeats 2 app on his iPad 2 to create drum beats. He mixed in vocals and other instrumentals in music software Reason and digital audio platform Pro Tools.

“This was actually my first cover to incorporate the tablet and I loved it,” Patrick told Mashable. “I plan on using my iPad and iPhone for more covers in the future.”

Patrick, who began uploading covers to his YouTube channel in August 2011, has thrown other objects into his videos. In his version of Taylor Swift’s “Ours,” he used a can of salt as a shaker.

For his cover of Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” he used a wooden spoon as a drumstick. Mashable included that video in a Cover Song Face-Off in October, and his rendition received 13,605 votes and now has 3.9 million views on YouTube.

SEE ALSO: Atlantic Records Unleashes iBook for Shinedown's Album Launch

Patrick’s first original single, “Merry Go Round,” debuts in April on YouTube and iTunes.

BONUS: Katy Perry’s ‘Part of Me’

More About: Entertainment, Music, musicians, Tablet, technology, YouTube

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Pew: Social Media Not Yet Driving News Traffic

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 11:36 AM PDT

iPhone Social Media Icons

Article recommendations from your friends on Facebook and Twitter aren’t a major source of traffic for news websites, according to Pew’s State of the Media 2012 report — but they have potential to become one.

The annual release focuses on trends in the world of journalism but as news continues to be made, read and reported with technology, this year’s edition is chock full of interesting data about the ways we all use the Internet.

According to Pew, social media use is on the rise, more people are reading the news online and advertisers are spending more money on Internet advertising than ever before. All of those factors have the potential to make social media one of the most important elements of a news outlet’s business plan.

Social Media Use

Facebook usage is up, according to Pew: 133 million users in the U.S. from 117 million last year. The social network’s got 845 million active users globally — about 54% of the world’s online population.

It’s also winning the social media popularity contest in terms of time spent on the site. Facebook users scrolled through their news feed, gawked at photos of friends and played games like Farmville for an average of 423 minutes in December of last year.

Tumblr came in second (151 minutes) and Pinterest third (80 minutes). To some surprise, MySpace (13 minutes) beat out Google+ (5 minutes).

Twitter is growing as well — 24 million active users in the U.S., according to eMarketer. That’s an estimated 32% increase from last year year. The company is tight-lipped on exactly how many people use the service.

Journalists have flocked to Twitter, says Pew, giving it “outsized influence” in the media game. Its ability to disseminate breaking news before traditional wire services gives it a “critical role” in journalism, says Pew — Whitney Houston’s death announcement on Twitter 55 minutes before it was confirmed on the AP wire is just one example.

"Twitter is the new newswire," said Chloe Sladden, the director of content and programming for Twitter, at a recent conference on the future of media at Stanford University.

(It’s worth noting that news broken over Twitter is not always accurate, as was the case with Joe Paterno’s death.)

News Consumption

Social media, says Pew, is not yet an overwhelming driver of news traffic. Only 9% of the average news organization’s traffic comes from social media and 9% of online consumers of news in the U.S. “very often” get their news via Facebook or Twitter.

However, those numbers are up from 2010 — and Pew expects them to continue rising. Those numbers also differ wildly for various outlets — outlets with more developed social media strategies tend to see more traffic from Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

Meanwhile, most Facebook users who use the site for news click on articles posted by their friends are family, while more Twitter users get their news from news outlets or journalists.

What are digitally-savvy people reading online? Often the same news sources they’ve read for years, according to Pew. Despite the creation of new online media outlets, the “traditional players” remain the go-to news source for most online consumers of news. “Long-standing” news organizations accounted for 17 of the top 25 most highly trafficked news websites, while 8 are online-only outlets.

However, more Americans are turning to the Internet in general as their primary source of news — 40%, as opposed to 20% who rely on newspapers. Television news, however, remains as popular as the Internet and newspapers combined.

Pew suggests that the creation of frictionless news sharing apps on Facebook might be contributing to the rise of Internet news — Yahoo boasts 25 million users of its social reader, and The Guardian‘s has been installed five million times.

The drawbacks of those apps, according to Pew, is the way they keep eyeballs away from a company’s website (and its advertising) and that it makes media outlets more dependent on Facebook.

Online Advertising

How’s the online advertising market doing? Very well. $32 billion was spent on Internet ads in 2011, up 23% from the previous year. Digital ads now make up 20% of all advertising in the U.S.

By far and away, that money is heading directly for the coffers of Google and Facebook. Together, they earned 68% of that $32 billion pie in 2011.

According to Pew, Google and Facebook excel at the ad game because they’re able to collect detailed data about their users and use it to show users advertisements highly relevant to their life and interests. Do you often search for film trailers and swap movie reviews with Facebook friends? Guess what: you’ll probably see cinema advertisements on Google and Facebook.

Pew believes that future growth of the online ad industry will come from local advertising (based on IP addresses and other data), video advertising and mobile ads — the latter of which is expanding faster than any other kind of digital ad. If news companies find a way to tap into the advertising money well, it could help them thrive in the digital age.

What’s Your Take?

Do you see any trends in Pew’s findings that you’re excited about? Do you think social media will become more of a traffic driver for news organizations? Sound off in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you.

More About: Facebook, journalism, Pew, Social Media, Twitter

Ashton Kutcher in Space: @aplusk Is Virgin’s 500th Astronaut

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 11:21 AM PDT

Virgin Galactic may not have yet flown its first passenger aboard SpaceShipTwo, the Burt Rutan-designed low-orbit craft that is still undergoing trials. But it’s already signed up its 500th eager spacenik: some guy named Ashton Kutcher.

“I gave Ashton a quick call to congratulate and welcome him,” wrote Virgin chief Richard Branson on his blog. “He is as thrilled as we are at the prospect of being among the first to cross the final frontier (and back!) with us and to experience the magic of space for himself.”

When will that be? Good question. The latest word from Virgin Galactic is that SpaceShipTwo will hit the skies with its first cargo of paying passengers sometime next year. But don’t hold your breath. The company has consistently pushed back the date of the maiden voyage, citing safety concerns; it was initially supposed to be in 2008.

As one of the first ticketed passengers told Mashable: “Every year for the last six years they've been saying 'next year.'"

SEE ALSO: Virgin Galactic Keeps Inching Towards Space, But When Will It Get There?

Still, Virgin Galactic has collected more than $60 million in pledges from passengers who, like Kutcher, will have paid $200,000 apiece for a short journey in the six-person craft by the time they fly. (To put down your deposit and reserve your place in line, you need only pony up $20,000.)

For Kutcher, that could add up to some relatively cheap publicity. The actor (and prominent startup investor) has suffered from a string of bad press lately. Late last year he won the first “Foot In Mouth” award from Celebtweets.com for a social media missive supporting Joe Paterno over the Penn State scandal; immediately after that tweet, Kutcher announced he was “taking a break” from Twitter.

Would you like to be Virgin Galactic’s 501st passenger? Let us know in the comments.

More About: ashton kutcher, space, Virgin Galactic

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3 Ways Kevin Rose Could Improve Google+

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 11:09 AM PDT

Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Rick Bakas is the Founder of Bakas Media, a new media relations firm in San Francisco working with brands such as wine.com, ABC’s Bachelor Ben Flajnik, British Airways and Portalupi Winery. Rick is also VP of Marketing for mobile payments provider, Press Pay.

Now that Kevin Rose (and a handful of his Milk team) have joined Google, the future for Google+ may be a bit rosier. The move to bring Rose in demonstrates Google's dedication to making social work. Although Google+ has 100 million users by some estimates, there's a perception of the platform being a ghost town.

Ex-Google employee (and Google+ engineer lead) James Whittaker was recently in the news for blasting Google on the blog of his new employer, Microsoft, claiming Google was "desperate." Whittaker was the second Google employee in the past six months to criticize Google+ for losing its spirit of innovation.

By bringing in Rose and his team, Google has the opportunity to improve its overall UX design across products. Moreover, Rose has connections to tap some of the most talented engineers in the industry to tweak and refine Google+, transforming it from a sterile environment to a warm, human space.

Here are three suggestions for what Rose and Google can do to make Google+ more engaging.

1. Stop Making Google Employees Top Influencers

As soon as Google+ went live, Google employees were given “verified” status and many were promoted as featured users, allowing them to build large followings. Google built the Google+ platform, then gave themselves home court advantage.

That sends the wrong message when attracting new users. A truly social ecosystem cannot be controlled, nor should it be dominated by its own employees who push their own agenda. According to Whittaker, "Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn't invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation."

Recent successful social platforms make their experience about the users and the ecosystem, they don't make it about themselves. Google can learn from that and think small.

2. Open It Up

If Google's future hinges on social, then Google+ has to be open to people's social graphs. People post photos on Instagram. They share checkins on Foursquare. They're pinning interests on Pinterest. Google+ will benefit by merging with the places people already live online. New users may find it hard to locate their friends on Google+ without the standard “Find Your Friends using Facebook and Twitter” buttons. It gives new users less incentive to come back if they can't interact with the people they know online.

The current model of supporting only Google products is working against Google+. It's unlikely for many users to live solely within the Google ecosystem. Google is actually sending an "unsocial" message to the world by not opening up the API.

3. Allow More Metrics

The third item on this list could have been related to search and SEO, but that’s an entirely separate discussion. In the near term, Google+ can help users — especially marketers — understand key performance indicators such as brand mentions and sentiment if they allow third-party developers to build better tools.

Google Analytics is a great tool for measuring traffic to a company website, but it can't be all things to all people. More importantly, it can't be the only tool to measure activity on Google+. Marketers will want to make Google+ part of their marketing mix, but without measurement, it's not a valuable investment of time.

Google+ will succeed when it becomes a valuable part of the social web, not the only destination of the social web. If anyone has the vision and influence to convince Google management, it may be Kevin Rose. But the addition of Rose and team doesn't guarantee success any more than LeBron James going to the Miami Heat will guarantee championships. On paper, it makes a lot of sense. So did Digg and OINK. Those platforms enjoyed success, but didn't enjoy sustained growth.

When Google stops thinking big and starts thinking small, they'll begin to realize organic growth and more importantly, user adoption. As for Kevin Rose, this might just be his biggest challenge yet. As a seasoned veteran in the social space, Rose may just be in the right place at the right time to apply everything he knows and breathe life into Google+.

More About: contributor, design, features, Google, kevin rose, Social Media, trending

Microsoft Kills Dreams, Says No New Xbox in 2012

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 10:54 AM PDT

Gamers will be disappointed to learn that there is no plan to release a new console to replace the six-year-old Xbox 360 anytime soon, according to a statement from Microsoft.

With this year’s E3 less than three months away, many hoped Microsoft would use the platform to announce new hardware, as they have done in the past — details about the XBox 360 were introduced at E3 in 2005.

“While we appreciate all the interest in our long-range plans for the future, we can confirm that there will be no talk of new Xbox hardware at E3 or anytime soon,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

Microsoft said they plan to focus on releasing new, high-profile games for their existing console this year, such as Halo 4. And given that the Kinect, the Xbox’s motion control system, is only two years old, Microsoft thinks they still have a lot of life in the console. It’s a safe bet: according to the company’s spokesperson, the Xbox 360 outsold all other consoles, DVD players and home theater systems worldwide.

SEE ALSO: Take a First Look at 'Halo 4′ [VIDEO]

The Xbox 360 was released on Nov. 22, 2005, and an updated, slimmer version was released five years later. It’s clear that Microsoft plans to put the console through its paces, which could be a boon to those who don’t want to shell out a few hundred bucks for a hardware upgrade.

Microsoft’s latest console has actually enjoyed the longest lifespan of all video game consoles currently on the market. The original Xbox was on shelves four years before being eclipsed by the current model; it was released in the U.S. on Nov. 15, 2001. Sony’s consoles also had a six-year gap between release; the PlayStation 2 was released in 2000, and the PlayStation 3 came out in 2006.

More About: e3, microsoft, trending, xbox, Xbox 360, XBox live

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Mike Daisey Fights Back on Apple Story: ‘I Will Not Go Silent’

Posted: 19 Mar 2012 10:44 AM PDT


Mike Daisey, the outspoken critic of Apple and its manufacturing partners in China, has responded on his website to the firestorm of criticism that erupted last week when it was revealed he had fabricated many of his most dramatic examples of oppressed workers.

Daisey, who helped Public Radio International’s This American Life adapt his one-man show, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” into an hour-long radio documentary, wrote a post in which he says he stands by his apology but that he “will not go silent.” He says he’ll make a “full accounting” of how he created his show, presumably revealing which details are true and which ones he took dramatic license with.

Daisey also had a few things to say to This American Life host Ira Glass, who retracted the show that was based on Daisey’s play, then aired an hour-long episode Friday night that explained the retraction. In it, Glass, along with NPR China correspondent Rob Schmitz, interrogated Daisey in about his lies, a segment Daisey calls “excruciating.”

“I thought the dead air was a nice touch, and finishing the episode with audio pulled out of context from my performance was masterful,” Daisey writes. “That's Ira's choice, and it's his show. He's a storyteller within the context of radio journalism, and I am a storyteller in the theater.”

SEE ALSO: ABC's Foxconn Reporter Couldn't Verify Daisey's Claims

Daisey points out in his post that he really did go to China and stand outside the Foxconn factory, and he says none of the criticism directed at him contests “the facts in my work about the nature of Chinese manufacturing,” although he doesn’t specify which facts he’s talking about.

Daisey apparently has played fast and loose with the truth before. His 15-year career as a monologuist includes other works, including a book and show called “21 Dog Years,” based on time he spent as an Amazon employee. In an interview with The Seattle Weekly, Daisey said he saw CEO Jeff Bezos every day, but a former coworker now disputes that claim.

After apologizing to the radio listeners, Daisey says he believes that the truth is vitally important, and that the story being told should be subordinate to the truth. While he says he sometimes falls short of that goal, he will continue to try to achieve it.

What do you think of Mike Daisey now? Are the liberties he’s taken with the truth forgivable or not? Have your say in the comments.

More About: apple, china, Foxconn, mike daisey, trending

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